Keeping Local Voices at the Front of 2021 Policies


  • Clarence E. Anthony
February 4, 2021 - (4 min read)

For many of us, 2021 ushered in a year of hope. While the tumult and challenges of 2020 have not disappeared, just being able to turn the page and offer a new perspective and a new look was inspiring.  

And as we close out the first month of the new year, many of us are still reeling from the images of an unruly and violent mob attacking our U.S. Capitol. Yet, I was encouraged by the peaceful transfer of power on display January 20 with the inauguration of Joe Biden and the historic swearing in of the first woman, Black-South Asian, as vice president.  

There was a sense of hope watching that moment and listening to the powerful words of 22-year-old Amanda Gorman. Her poem reminds us there is light ahead.  

We have been through a tumultuous year and there are still some dark days ahead as we continue to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and face our nation’s reckoning with race and racial justice.  

Our communities are still struggling to recover from the economic and social fallout from the COVID crisis. The financial blow to many local governments is still visible – and that’s why the National League of Cities (NLC) continues its fight for direct aid for cities and towns.  

Through our Cities Are Essential campaign, NLC brought the voices of local leaders to Washington to help Members of Congress and the Administration understand the critical role that local government was playing in keeping our communities afloat during the pandemic. Mayors and local elected officials have been on the frontlines responding to resident needs, setting up food banks, offering grants for their small businesses and keeping their community safe.  

The Biden-Harris Administration has already shown a commitment to economic aid for state and localities, a welcome approach to our continuing call for direct funding for local government. NLC is proud of the partnership and combined voices that echoed throughout Washington as part of NLC’s Cities Are Essential campaign. Read the report here.  

No community was untouched by the pandemic – coronavirus doesn’t care if you’re a Democrat or Republican. And now with local governments tasked with educating their residents about vaccine accessibility and administration, we know there is still a need for partnership from the federal government. NLC is encouraged by the overtures from Biden-Harris Administration.  

Our challenges remain very familiar in 2021: racial uprisings, economic fallout, and a deep partisan divide. But NLC is deeply optimistic about the future. Local leaders know what solutions work best for their community, and President Biden’s selections for his Cabinet including former Mayor and Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, and former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh suggest he values this experience of local government.  

With these nominations, the local government perspective will be at the forefront of our nation’s priorities moving forward, and rightfully so.  Having local voices in the White House will provide valuable insight into the challenges municipal leaders are facing and uplift the hard work they’ve been doing tirelessly. NLC is excited to partner with the Administration, raising your voices to the national level in partnership with the federal government. 

About the Author

Clarence E. Anthony

About the Author

Clarence E. Anthony is the CEO & Executive Director of the National League of Cities. Follow him on Twitter: @ceanthony50.